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S. 1915: Security from Political Interference in Justice Act of 2019


The text of the bill below is as of Jun 20, 2019 (Introduced).

Summary of this bill

In the wake of unprecedented levels of interference between the White House and the traditionally-independent Justice Department, should almost all communications between the White House and DOJ be turned over to Congress twice a year?

Context

Although the attorney general and other top Justice Department officials are nominated by the president, the department has long enjoyed a greater level of independence than perhaps any other cabinet agency. This is by design, in the hopes of ensuring an equal treatment and dispensation of federal laws untainted by politics.

President Donald Trump, though, has attempted to interfere with internal Justice Department happenings more than any president in decades. Notable examples include asking ...


II

116th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1915

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 20, 2019

(for himself, Mr. Blumenthal, and Ms. Harris) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

A BILL

To require the recording and reporting of communications between the Department of Justice and the White House relating to civil and criminal investigations, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Security from Political Interference in Justice Act of 2019.

2.

Definitions

In this Act—

(1)

the term communications log means the log required to be maintained under section 3(a);

(2)

the term covered communication

(A)

means any communication relating to an ongoing investigation conducted by the Department of Justice in any civil or criminal matter (regardless of whether a civil action or criminal indictment or information has been filed); and

(B)

does not include a communication that—

(i)

relates solely to policy, appointments, legislation, rulemaking, budgets, public relations, programmatic matters, intergovernmental relations, administrative or personnel matters, appellate litigation, or requests for legal advice; and

(ii)

does not relate to an ongoing investigation described in subparagraph (A); and

(3)

the term investigative office means—

(A)

the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice; and

(B)

the Office of Professional Responsibility of the Department of Justice.

3.

Communications logs

(a)

In general

The Counsel to the President and the Attorney General shall each maintain a log of any covered communication between—

(1)

an officer or employee of the Department of Justice; and

(2)

an officer or employee of the Executive Office of the President.

(b)

Contents

A communications log shall include, with respect to a covered communication—

(1)

the name and title of each officer or employee of the Department of Justice or the Executive Office of the President who participated in the covered communication;

(2)

the topic of the covered communication; and

(3)

a statement describing the purpose and necessity of the covered communication.

(c)

Oversight

(1)

Periodic disclosure of logs

(A)

In general

Subject to subparagraph (B), not later than January 30 and July 30 of each year, the Attorney General shall submit to Congress and each investigative office a report containing the communications log for the 6-month period preceding that January or July.

(B)

Records of certain communications

(i)

In general

The Attorney General shall exclude from the report submitted to Congress under subparagraph (A) any record of a covered communication in which any of the following officials participated:

(I)

The President.

(II)

The Vice President.

(III)

The Counsel to the President.

(IV)

The Counselor to the President.

(V)

The Attorney General.

(VI)

The Deputy Attorney General.

(VII)

The Associate Attorney General.

(ii)

Rule of construction

The exclusion of certain records under clause (i) from the report to Congress under subparagraph (A) shall not be construed to—

(I)

exclude those records from the report to the investigative offices under subparagraph (A) or the review and notice requirements under paragraph (2); or

(II)

protect those records from congressional subpoena.

(2)

Notice of inappropriate or improper communications

The head of an investigative office shall—

(A)

review each communications log received under paragraph (1)(A); and

(B)

notify Congress if the office head determines that a covered communication described in the communications log—

(i)

is inappropriate from a law enforcement perspective; or

(ii)

raises concerns about improper political interference.